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1.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in five cohorts reveals common variants in RBFOX1, a regulator of tissue-specific splicing, associated with refractive error 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(13):2754-2764.
Visual refractive errors (REs) are complex genetic traits with a largely unknown etiology. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of moderate size have identified several novel risk markers for RE, measured here as mean spherical equivalent (MSE). We performed a GWAS using a total of 7280 samples from five cohorts: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS); the KORA study (‘Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg’); the Framingham Eye Study (FES); the Ogliastra Genetic Park-Talana (OGP-Talana) Study and the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Genotyping was performed on Illumina and Affymetrix platforms with additional markers imputed to the HapMap II reference panel. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 16 (rs10500355, P = 3.9 × 10−9) in a combined discovery and replication set (26 953 samples). This single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is located within the RBFOX1 gene which is a neuron-specific splicing factor regulating a wide range of alternative splicing events implicated in neuronal development and maturation, including transcription factors, other splicing factors and synaptic proteins.
PMCID: PMC3674806  PMID: 23474815
2.  GWAS identifies an NAT2 acetylator status tag single nucleotide polymorphism to be a major locus for skin fluorescence 
Diabetologia  2014;57:1623-1634.
Skin fluorescence (SF) is a non-invasive marker of AGEs and is associated with the long-term complications of diabetes. SF increases with age and is also greater among individuals with diabetes. A familial correlation of SF suggests that genetics may play a role. We therefore performed parallel genome-wide association studies of SF in two cohorts.
Cohort 1 included 1,082 participants, 35–67 years of age with type 1 diabetes. Cohort 2 included 8,721 participants without diabetes, aged 18–90 years.
rs1495741 was significantly associated with SF in Cohort 1 (p < 6 × 10−10), which is known to tag the NAT2 acetylator phenotype. The fast acetylator genotype was associated with lower SF, explaining up to 15% of the variance. In Cohort 2, the top signal associated with SF (p = 8.3 × 10−42) was rs4921914, also in NAT2, 440 bases upstream of rs1495741 (linkage disequilibrium r2 = 1.0 for rs4921914 with rs1495741). We replicated these results in two additional cohorts, one with and one without type 1 diabetes. Finally, to understand which compounds are contributing to the NAT2–SF signal, we examined 11 compounds assayed from skin biopsies (n = 198): the fast acetylator genotype was associated with lower levels of the AGEs hydroimidazolones of glyoxal (p = 0.017).
We identified a robust association between NAT2 and SF in people with and without diabetes. Our findings provide proof of principle that genetic variation contributes to interindividual SF and that NAT2 acetylation status plays a major role.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3286-9) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
PMCID: PMC4079945  PMID: 24934506
Acetylation; Genome-wide association study; NAT2; Skin autofluorescence; Skin fluorescence; Skin intrinsic fluorescence
3.  A Novel Susceptibility Locus on Rat Chromosome 8 Affects Spontaneous but Not Experimentally Induced Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2007;56(6):1731-1736.
The biobreeding diabetes-prone (BBDP) rat spontaneously develops type 1 diabetes. Two of the genetic factors contributing to this syndrome are the major histocompatibility complex (Iddm1) and a Gimap5 mutation (Iddm2) responsible for a T-lymphopenia. Susceptibility to experimentally induced type 1 diabetes is widespread among nonlymphopenic (wild-type Iddm2) rat strains provided they share the BBDP Iddm1 allele. The question follows as to whether spontaneous and experimentally induced type 1 diabetes share susceptibility loci besides Iddm1. Our objectives were to map a novel, serendipitously discovered Iddm locus, confirm its effects by developing congenic sublines, and assess its differential contribution to spontaneous and experimentally induced type 1 diabetes.
An unexpected reduction in spontaneous type 1 diabetes incidence (86 to 31%, P < 0.0001) was observed in a BBDP line congenic for a Wistar Furth–derived allotypic marker, RT7 (chromosome 13). Genome-wide analysis revealed that, besides the RT7 locus, a Wistar Furth chromosome 8 fragment had also been introduced. The contribution of these intervals to diabetes resistance was assessed through linkage analysis using 134 F2 (BBDP × double congenic line) animals and a panel of congenic sublines. One of these sublines, resistant to spontaneous type 1 diabetes, was tested for susceptibility to experimentally induced type 1 diabetes.
Both linkage analysis and congenic sublines mapped a novel locus (Iddm24) to the telomeric 10.34 Mb of chromosome 8, influencing cumulative incidence and age of onset of spontaneous type 1 diabetes but not insulitis nor experimentally induced type 1 diabetes.
This study has identified a type 1 diabetes susceptibility locus that appears to act after the development of insulitis and that regulates spontaneous type 1 diabetes exclusively.
PMCID: PMC3987115  PMID: 17389329
4.  ADCK4 mutations promote steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome through CoQ10 biosynthesis disruption  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(12):5179-5189.
Identification of single-gene causes of steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) has furthered the understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease. Here, using a combination of homozygosity mapping and whole human exome resequencing, we identified mutations in the aarF domain containing kinase 4 (ADCK4) gene in 15 individuals with SRNS from 8 unrelated families. ADCK4 was highly similar to ADCK3, which has been shown to participate in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) biosynthesis. Mutations in ADCK4 resulted in reduced CoQ10 levels and reduced mitochondrial respiratory enzyme activity in cells isolated from individuals with SRNS and transformed lymphoblasts. Knockdown of adck4 in zebrafish and Drosophila recapitulated nephrotic syndrome-associated phenotypes. Furthermore, ADCK4 was expressed in glomerular podocytes and partially localized to podocyte mitochondria and foot processes in rat kidneys and cultured human podocytes. In human podocytes, ADCK4 interacted with members of the CoQ10 biosynthesis pathway, including COQ6, which has been linked with SRNS and COQ7. Knockdown of ADCK4 in podocytes resulted in decreased migration, which was reversed by CoQ10 addition. Interestingly, a patient with SRNS with a homozygous ADCK4 frameshift mutation had partial remission following CoQ10 treatment. These data indicate that individuals with SRNS with mutations in ADCK4 or other genes that participate in CoQ10 biosynthesis may be treatable with CoQ10.
PMCID: PMC3859425  PMID: 24270420
5.  NADPH oxidase complex and IBD candidate gene studies: identification of a rare variant in NCF2 that results in reduced binding to RAC2 
Gut  2011;61(7):1028-1035.
The NOX2 NADPH oxidase complex produces reactive oxygen species and plays a critical role in the killing of microbes by phagocytes. Genetic mutations in genes encoding components of the complex result in both X-linked and autosomal recessive forms of chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). Patients with CGD often develop intestinal inflammation that is histologically similar to Crohn's colitis, suggesting a common aetiology for both diseases. The aim of this study is to determine if polymorphisms in NOX2 NADPH oxidase complex genes that do not cause CGD are associated with the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Direct sequencing and candidate gene approaches were used to identify susceptibility loci in NADPH oxidase complex genes. Functional studies were carried out on identified variants. Novel findings were replicated in independent cohorts.
Sequence analysis identified a novel missense variant in the neutrophil cytosolic factor 2 (NCF2) gene that is associated with very early onset IBD (VEO-IBD) and subsequently found in 4% of patients with VEO-IBD compared with 0.2% of controls (p=1.3×10−5, OR 23.8 (95% CI 3.9 to 142.5); Fisher exact test). This variant reduced binding of the NCF2 gene product p67phox to RAC2. This study found a novel genetic association of RAC2 with Crohn's disease (CD) and replicated the previously reported association of NCF4 with ileal CD.
These studies suggest that the rare novel p67phox variant results in partial inhibition of oxidase function and are associated with CD in a subgroup of patients with VEO-IBD; and suggest that components of the NADPH oxidase complex are associated with CD.
PMCID: PMC3806486  PMID: 21900546
6.  Pilot Genome Wide Association Search Identifies Potential loci for Risk of Erectile Dysfunction in Type 1 Diabetes Using the DCCT/EDIC Study Cohort 
The Journal of urology  2012;188(2):514-520.
To identify genetic predictors of diabetes-associated ED using genome wide and candidate gene approaches in a cohort of men with type I diabetes.
We examined 528 white men with T1D (125 with ED) from the DCCT and its observational follow up EDIC Study. ED was defined from a single item of the IIEF. An Illumina Human1M BeadChip was used for genotyping. 867,125 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were subjected to analysis. Whole genome and candidate gene approaches tested the hypothesis that genetic polymorphisms may predispose men with T1D to ED. Univariate and multivariate models were used controlling for age, HbA1c, diabetes duration, and prior randomization to intensive or conventional insulin therapy during DCCT. A stratified false discovery rate was used to perform the candidate gene approach.
Two SNPs located on chromosome 3 in one genomic loci were associated with ED with p < 1×10−6. rs9810233 had a p-value of 7 × 10−7 and rs1920201 had a p-value of 9×10−7 The nearest gene to these two SNPs is ALCAM. The genetic association results at these loci were similar in univariate and multivariate analysis. No candidate genes met criteria for statistical significance.
Two SNPs, rs9810233 and rs1920101, which are 25 kb apart, are both associated with ED, albeit not meeting the standard GWAS significance criteria of p < 5 × 10−8. Other studies with larger sample sizes will be required to determine whether ALCAM represents a novel gene in the pathogenesis of diabetes associated ED.
PMCID: PMC3764461  PMID: 22704111
Erectile Dysfunction; Diabetes; Genetics
7.  Genome-wide meta-analyses of multi-ethnic cohorts identify multiple new susceptibility loci for refractive error and myopia 
Verhoeven, Virginie J.M. | Hysi, Pirro G. | Wojciechowski, Robert | Fan, Qiao | Guggenheim, Jeremy A. | Höhn, René | MacGregor, Stuart | Hewitt, Alex W. | Nag, Abhishek | Cheng, Ching-Yu | Yonova-Doing, Ekaterina | Zhou, Xin | Ikram, M. Kamran | Buitendijk, Gabriëlle H.S. | McMahon, George | Kemp, John P. | St. Pourcain, Beate | Simpson, Claire L. | Mäkelä, Kari-Matti | Lehtimäki, Terho | Kähönen, Mika | Paterson, Andrew D. | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Wong, Hoi Suen | Xu, Liang | Jonas, Jost B. | Pärssinen, Olavi | Wedenoja, Juho | Yip, Shea Ping | Ho, Daniel W. H. | Pang, Chi Pui | Chen, Li Jia | Burdon, Kathryn P. | Craig, Jamie E. | Klein, Barbara E. K. | Klein, Ronald | Haller, Toomas | Metspalu, Andres | Khor, Chiea-Chuen | Tai, E-Shyong | Aung, Tin | Vithana, Eranga | Tay, Wan-Ting | Barathi, Veluchamy A. | Chen, Peng | Li, Ruoying | Liao, Jiemin | Zheng, Yingfeng | Ong, Rick T. | Döring, Angela | Evans, David M. | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Verkerk, Annemieke J.M.H. | Meitinger, Thomas | Raitakari, Olli | Hawthorne, Felicia | Spector, Tim D. | Karssen, Lennart C. | Pirastu, Mario | Murgia, Federico | Ang, Wei | Mishra, Aniket | Montgomery, Grant W. | Pennell, Craig E. | Cumberland, Phillippa M. | Cotlarciuc, Ioana | Mitchell, Paul | Wang, Jie Jin | Schache, Maria | Janmahasathian, Sarayut | Igo, Robert P. | Lass, Jonathan H. | Chew, Emily | Iyengar, Sudha K. | Gorgels, Theo G.M.F. | Rudan, Igor | Hayward, Caroline | Wright, Alan F. | Polasek, Ozren | Vatavuk, Zoran | Wilson, James F. | Fleck, Brian | Zeller, Tanja | Mirshahi, Alireza | Müller, Christian | Uitterlinden, Andre’ G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Vingerling, Johannes R. | Hofman, Albert | Oostra, Ben A. | Amin, Najaf | Bergen, Arthur A.B. | Teo, Yik-Ying | Rahi, Jugnoo S. | Vitart, Veronique | Williams, Cathy | Baird, Paul N. | Wong, Tien-Yin | Oexle, Konrad | Pfeiffer, Norbert | Mackey, David A. | Young, Terri L. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Saw, Seang-Mei | Wilson, Joan E. Bailey | Stambolian, Dwight | Klaver, Caroline C. | Hammond, Christopher J.
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):314-318.
Refractive error is the most common eye disorder worldwide, and a prominent cause of blindness. Myopia affects over 30% of Western populations, and up to 80% of Asians. The CREAM consortium conducted genome-wide meta-analyses including 37,382 individuals from 27 studies of European ancestry, and 8,376 from 5 Asian cohorts. We identified 16 new loci for refractive error in subjects of European ancestry, of which 8 were shared with Asians. Combined analysis revealed 8 additional loci. The new loci include genes with functions in neurotransmission (GRIA4), ion channels (KCNQ5), retinoic acid metabolism (RDH5), extracellular matrix remodeling (LAMA2, BMP2), and eye development (SIX6, PRSS56). We also confirmed previously reported associations with GJD2 and RASGRF1. Risk score analysis using associated SNPs showed a tenfold increased risk of myopia for subjects with the highest genetic load. Our results, accumulated across independent multi-ethnic studies, considerably advance understanding of mechanisms involved in refractive error and myopia.
PMCID: PMC3740568  PMID: 23396134
8.  An enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the determination of the human haptoglobin phenotype 
Haptoglobin (Hp) is an abundant serum protein which binds extracorpuscular hemoglobin (Hb). Two alleles exist in humans for the Hp gene, denoted 1 and 2. Diabetic individuals with the Hp 2-2 genotype are at increased risk of developing vascular complications including heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. Recent evidence shows that treatment with vitamin E can reduce the risk of diabetic vascular complications by as much as 50% in Hp 2-2 individuals. We sought to develop a rapid and accurate test for Hp phenotype (which is 100% concordant with the three major Hp genotypes) to facilitate widespread diagnostic testing as well as prospective clinical trials.
A monoclonal antibody raised against human Hp was shown to distinguish between the three Hp phenotypes in an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Hp phenotypes obtained in over 8000 patient samples using this ELISA method were compared with those obtained by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis or the TaqMan PCR method.
Our analysis showed that the sensitivity and specificity of the ELISA test for Hp 2-2 phenotype is 99.0% and 98.1%, respectively. The positive predictive value and the negative predictive value for Hp 2-2 phenotype is 97.5% and 99.3%, respectively. Similar results were obtained for Hp 2-1 and Hp 1-1 phenotypes. In addition, the ELISA was determined to be more sensitive and specific than the TaqMan method.
The Hp ELISA represents a user-friendly, rapid and highly accurate diagnostic tool for determining Hp phenotypes. This test will greatly facilitate the typing of thousands of samples in ongoing clinical studies.
PMCID: PMC3717392  PMID: 23492570
diabetes; ELISA; haptoglobin phenotype; pharmacogenomics; vitamin E
9.  Identification of a novel percent mammographic density locus at 12q24 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(14):3299-3305.
Percent mammographic density adjusted for age and body mass index (BMI) is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer and has a heritable component that remains largely unidentified. We performed a three-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) of percent mammographic density to identify novel genetic loci associated with this trait. In stage 1, we combined three GWASs of percent density comprised of 1241 women from studies at the Mayo Clinic and identified the top 48 loci (99 single nucleotide polymorphisms). We attempted replication of these loci in 7018 women from seven additional studies (stage 2). The meta-analysis of stage 1 and 2 data identified a novel locus, rs1265507 on 12q24, associated with percent density, adjusting for age and BMI (P = 4.43 × 10−8). We refined the 12q24 locus with 459 additional variants (stage 3) in a combined analysis of all three stages (n = 10 377) and confirmed that rs1265507 has the strongest association in the 12q24 region (P = 1.03 × 10−8). Rs1265507 is located between the genes TBX5 and TBX3, which are members of the phylogenetically conserved T-box gene family and encode transcription factors involved in developmental regulation. Understanding the mechanism underlying this association will provide insight into the genetics of breast tissue composition.
PMCID: PMC3384385  PMID: 22532574
10.  Mammographic density and breast cancer: a comparison of related and unrelated controls in the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
Percent mammographic density (PMD) is a strong and highly heritable risk factor for breast cancer. Studies of the role of PMD in familial breast cancer may require controls, such as the sisters of cases, selected from the same 'risk set' as the cases. The use of sister controls would allow control for factors that have been shown to influence risk of breast cancer such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and a family history of breast cancer, but may introduce 'overmatching' and attenuate case-control differences in PMD.
To examine the potential effects of using sister controls rather than unrelated controls in a case-control study, we examined PMD in triplets, each comprised of a case with invasive breast cancer, an unaffected full sister control, and an unaffected unrelated control. Both controls were matched to cases on age at mammogram. Total breast area and dense area in the mammogram were measured in the unaffected breast of cases and a randomly selected breast in controls, and the non-dense area and PMD calculated from these measurements.
The mean difference in PMD between cases and controls, and the standard deviation (SD) of the difference, were slightly less for sister controls (4.2% (SD = 20.0)) than for unrelated controls (4.9% (SD = 25.7)). We found statistically significant correlations in PMD between cases (n = 228) and sister controls (n = 228) (r = 0.39 (95% CI: 0.28, 0.50; P <0.0001)), but not between cases and unrelated controls (n = 228) (r = 0.04 (95% CI: -0.09, 0.17; P = 0.51)). After adjusting for other risk factors, square root transformed PMD was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer when comparing cases to sister controls (adjusted odds ratio (inter-quintile odds ratio (IQOR) = 2.19, 95% CI = 1.20, 4.00) or to unrelated controls (adjusted IQOR = 2.62, 95% CI = 1.62, 4.25).
The use of sister controls in case-control studies of PMD resulted in a modest attenuation of case-control differences and risk estimates, but showed a statistically significant association with risk and allowed control for race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and family history.
PMCID: PMC3706877  PMID: 23705888
Mammographic density; case-control study; overmatching; case control
11.  Identification of genetic loci underlying the phenotypic constructs of autism spectrum disorders Running head: Genetic loci for latent factors in ASD 
To investigate the underlying phenotypic constructs in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and to identify genetic loci that are linked to these empirically derived factors.
Exploratory factor analysis was applied to two datasets with 28 selected Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) algorithm items. The first dataset was from the Autism Genome Project (AGP) phase I (1,236 ASD subjects from 618 families); the second was from the AGP phase II (804 unrelated ASD subjects). Variables derived from the factor analysis were then used as quantitative traits in genome-wide variance components linkage analyses.
Six factors, joint attention, social interaction and communication, non-verbal communication, repetitive sensory-motor behaviour, peer interaction, and compulsion/restricted interests, were retained for both datasets. There was good agreement between the factor loading patterns from the two datasets. All factors showed familial aggregation. Suggestive evidence for linkage was obtained for the joint attention factor on 11q23. Genome-wide significant evidence for linkage was obtained for the repetitive sensory-motor behaviour factor on 19q13.3.
This study demonstrates that the underlying phenotypic constructs based on the ADI-R algorithm items are replicable in independent datasets; and the empirically derived factors are suitable and informative in genetic studies of ASD.
PMCID: PMC3593812  PMID: 21703496
autism; ADI-R; factor analysis; linkage analysis; quantitative trait
12.  New Susceptibility Loci Associated with Kidney Disease in Type 1 Diabetes 
Sandholm, Niina | Salem, Rany M. | McKnight, Amy Jayne | Brennan, Eoin P. | Forsblom, Carol | Isakova, Tamara | McKay, Gareth J. | Williams, Winfred W. | Sadlier, Denise M. | Mäkinen, Ville-Petteri | Swan, Elizabeth J. | Palmer, Cameron | Boright, Andrew P. | Ahlqvist, Emma | Deshmukh, Harshal A. | Keller, Benjamin J. | Huang, Huateng | Ahola, Aila J. | Fagerholm, Emma | Gordin, Daniel | Harjutsalo, Valma | He, Bing | Heikkilä, Outi | Hietala, Kustaa | Kytö, Janne | Lahermo, Päivi | Lehto, Markku | Lithovius, Raija | Österholm, Anne-May | Parkkonen, Maija | Pitkäniemi, Janne | Rosengård-Bärlund, Milla | Saraheimo, Markku | Sarti, Cinzia | Söderlund, Jenny | Soro-Paavonen, Aino | Syreeni, Anna | Thorn, Lena M. | Tikkanen, Heikki | Tolonen, Nina | Tryggvason, Karl | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Wadén, Johan | Gill, Geoffrey V. | Prior, Sarah | Guiducci, Candace | Mirel, Daniel B. | Taylor, Andrew | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Parving, Hans-Henrik | Rossing, Peter | Tarnow, Lise | Ladenvall, Claes | Alhenc-Gelas, François | Lefebvre, Pierre | Rigalleau, Vincent | Roussel, Ronan | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Maestroni, Anna | Maestroni, Silvia | Falhammar, Henrik | Gu, Tianwei | Möllsten, Anna | Cimponeriu, Danut | Ioana, Mihai | Mota, Maria | Mota, Eugen | Serafinceanu, Cristian | Stavarachi, Monica | Hanson, Robert L. | Nelson, Robert G. | Kretzler, Matthias | Colhoun, Helen M. | Panduru, Nicolae Mircea | Gu, Harvest F. | Brismar, Kerstin | Zerbini, Gianpaolo | Hadjadj, Samy | Marre, Michel | Groop, Leif | Lajer, Maria | Bull, Shelley B. | Waggott, Daryl | Paterson, Andrew D. | Savage, David A. | Bain, Stephen C. | Martin, Finian | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Godson, Catherine | Florez, Jose C. | Groop, Per-Henrik | Maxwell, Alexander P.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002921.
Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN), is a major complication of diabetes and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) that requires dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In addition to the decrease in the quality of life, DN accounts for a large proportion of the excess mortality associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Whereas the degree of glycemia plays a pivotal role in DN, a subset of individuals with poorly controlled T1D do not develop DN. Furthermore, strong familial aggregation supports genetic susceptibility to DN. However, the genes and the molecular mechanisms behind the disease remain poorly understood, and current therapeutic strategies rarely result in reversal of DN. In the GEnetics of Nephropathy: an International Effort (GENIE) consortium, we have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of T1D DN comprising ∼2.4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) imputed in 6,691 individuals. After additional genotyping of 41 top ranked SNPs representing 24 independent signals in 5,873 individuals, combined meta-analysis revealed association of two SNPs with ESRD: rs7583877 in the AFF3 gene (P = 1.2×10−8) and an intergenic SNP on chromosome 15q26 between the genes RGMA and MCTP2, rs12437854 (P = 2.0×10−9). Functional data suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis via the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β1) pathway. The strongest association with DN as a primary phenotype was seen for an intronic SNP in the ERBB4 gene (rs7588550, P = 2.1×10−7), a gene with type 2 diabetes DN differential expression and in the same intron as a variant with cis-eQTL expression of ERBB4. All these detected associations represent new signals in the pathogenesis of DN.
Author Summary
The global prevalence of diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, constituting a major health care problem worldwide. Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN)—the major long term microvascular complication of diabetes—is associated with excess mortality among patients with type 1 diabetes. Even though DN has been shown to cluster in families, the underlying genetic and molecular pathways remain poorly defined. We have undertaken the largest genome-wide association study and meta-analysis to date on DN and on its most severe form of kidney disease, end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We identified new loci significantly associated with diabetic ESRD: AFF3 and an intergenic locus on chromosome 15q26 residing between RGMA and MCTP2. Our functional analyses suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis, a pathological hallmark of severe DN. Another locus in ERBB4 was suggestively associated with DN and resides in the same intronic region as a variant affecting the expression of ERBB4. Subsequent pathway analysis of the genes co-expressed with ERBB4 indicated involvement of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3447939  PMID: 23028342
13.  Mammographic breast density and breast cancer: evidence of a shared genetic basis 
Cancer research  2012;72(6):1478-1484.
Percent mammographic breast density (PMD) is a strong heritable risk factor for breast cancer. However, the pathways through which this risk is mediated are still unclear. To explore whether PMD and breast cancer have a shared genetic basis, we identified genetic variants most strongly associated with PMD in a published meta-analysis of five genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and used these to construct risk scores for 3628 breast cancer cases and 5190 controls from the UK2 GWAS of breast cancer. The signed per-allele effect estimates of SNPs were multiplied with the respective allele counts in the individual and summed over all SNPs to derive the risk score for an individual. These scores were included as the exposure variable in a logistic regression model with breast cancer case-control status as the outcome. This analysis was repeated using ten different cut-offs for the most significant density SNPs (1-10% representing 5,222-50,899 SNPs). Permutation analysis was also performed across all 10 cut-offs. The association between risk score and breast cancer was significant for all cut-offs from 3-10% of top density SNPs, being most significant for the 6% (2-sided P=0.002) to 10% (P=0.001) cut-offs (overall permutation P=0.003). Women in the top 10% of the risk score distribution had a 31% increased risk of breast cancer [OR= 1.31 (95%CI 1.08-1.59)] compared to women in the bottom 10%. Together, our results demonstrate that PMD and breast cancer have a shared genetic basis that is mediated through a large number of common variants.
PMCID: PMC3378688  PMID: 22266113
breast cancer; mammographic density; SNPs; polygenic; Mendelian Randomisation
14.  Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms that Increase Expression of the GTPase RAC1 are Associated with Ulcerative Colitis 
Gastroenterology  2011;141(2):633-641.
Background & Aims
RAC1 is a GTPase that has an evolutionarily conserved role in coordinating immune defenses, from plants to mammals. Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are associated with dysregulation of immune defenses. We studied the role of RAC1 in IBD using human genetic and functional studies and animal models of colitis.
We used a candidate gene approach to HapMap-Tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a discovery cohort; findings were confirmed in 2 additional cohorts. RAC1 mRNA expression was examined from peripheral blood cells of patients. Colitis was induced in mice with conditional disruption of Rac1 in phagocytes by administration of dextran sulphate sodium (DSS).
We observed a genetic association between RAC1 with ulcerative colitis (UC) in a discovery cohort, 2 independent replication cohorts, and in combined analysis for the SNPs rs10951982 (Pcombined UC = 3.3 × 10–8, odds ratio [OR]=1.43 [1.26–1.63]) and rs4720672 (Pcombined UC=4.7 × 10–6, OR=1.36 [1.19–1.58]). Patients with IBD who had the rs10951982 risk allele had increased expression of RAC1, compared to those without this allele. Conditional disruption of Rac1 in macrophage and neutrophils of mice protected them against DSS-induced colitis.
Studies of human tissue samples and knockout mice demonstrated a role for the GTPase RAC1 in the development of UC; increased expression of RAC1 was associated with susceptibility to colitis.
PMCID: PMC3152589  PMID: 21684284
innate immunity; Crohn's disease; CD; Rac-1 knockout
15.  Individual common variants exert weak effects on the risk for autism spectrum disorderspi 
Anney, Richard | Klei, Lambertus | Pinto, Dalila | Almeida, Joana | Bacchelli, Elena | Baird, Gillian | Bolshakova, Nadia | Bölte, Sven | Bolton, Patrick F. | Bourgeron, Thomas | Brennan, Sean | Brian, Jessica | Casey, Jillian | Conroy, Judith | Correia, Catarina | Corsello, Christina | Crawford, Emily L. | de Jonge, Maretha | Delorme, Richard | Duketis, Eftichia | Duque, Frederico | Estes, Annette | Farrar, Penny | Fernandez, Bridget A. | Folstein, Susan E. | Fombonne, Eric | Gilbert, John | Gillberg, Christopher | Glessner, Joseph T. | Green, Andrew | Green, Jonathan | Guter, Stephen J. | Heron, Elizabeth A. | Holt, Richard | Howe, Jennifer L. | Hughes, Gillian | Hus, Vanessa | Igliozzi, Roberta | Jacob, Suma | Kenny, Graham P. | Kim, Cecilia | Kolevzon, Alexander | Kustanovich, Vlad | Lajonchere, Clara M. | Lamb, Janine A. | Law-Smith, Miriam | Leboyer, Marion | Le Couteur, Ann | Leventhal, Bennett L. | Liu, Xiao-Qing | Lombard, Frances | Lord, Catherine | Lotspeich, Linda | Lund, Sabata C. | Magalhaes, Tiago R. | Mantoulan, Carine | McDougle, Christopher J. | Melhem, Nadine M. | Merikangas, Alison | Minshew, Nancy J. | Mirza, Ghazala K. | Munson, Jeff | Noakes, Carolyn | Nygren, Gudrun | Papanikolaou, Katerina | Pagnamenta, Alistair T. | Parrini, Barbara | Paton, Tara | Pickles, Andrew | Posey, David J. | Poustka, Fritz | Ragoussis, Jiannis | Regan, Regina | Roberts, Wendy | Roeder, Kathryn | Roge, Bernadette | Rutter, Michael L. | Schlitt, Sabine | Shah, Naisha | Sheffield, Val C. | Soorya, Latha | Sousa, Inês | Stoppioni, Vera | Sykes, Nuala | Tancredi, Raffaella | Thompson, Ann P. | Thomson, Susanne | Tryfon, Ana | Tsiantis, John | Van Engeland, Herman | Vincent, John B. | Volkmar, Fred | Vorstman, JAS | Wallace, Simon | Wing, Kirsty | Wittemeyer, Kerstin | Wood, Shawn | Zurawiecki, Danielle | Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie | Bailey, Anthony J. | Battaglia, Agatino | Cantor, Rita M. | Coon, Hilary | Cuccaro, Michael L. | Dawson, Geraldine | Ennis, Sean | Freitag, Christine M. | Geschwind, Daniel H. | Haines, Jonathan L. | Klauck, Sabine M. | McMahon, William M. | Maestrini, Elena | Miller, Judith | Monaco, Anthony P. | Nelson, Stanley F. | Nurnberger, John I. | Oliveira, Guiomar | Parr, Jeremy R. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Piven, Joseph | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Vicente, Astrid M. | Wassink, Thomas H. | Wijsman, Ellen M. | Betancur, Catalina | Buxbaum, Joseph D. | Cook, Edwin H. | Gallagher, Louise | Gill, Michael | Hallmayer, Joachim | Paterson, Andrew D. | Sutcliffe, James S. | Szatmari, Peter | Vieland, Veronica J. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Devlin, Bernie
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(21):4781-4792.
While it is apparent that rare variation can play an important role in the genetic architecture of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), the contribution of common variation to the risk of developing ASD is less clear. To produce a more comprehensive picture, we report Stage 2 of the Autism Genome Project genome-wide association study, adding 1301 ASD families and bringing the total to 2705 families analysed (Stages 1 and 2). In addition to evaluating the association of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we also sought evidence that common variants, en masse, might affect the risk. Despite genotyping over a million SNPs covering the genome, no single SNP shows significant association with ASD or selected phenotypes at a genome-wide level. The SNP that achieves the smallest P-value from secondary analyses is rs1718101. It falls in CNTNAP2, a gene previously implicated in susceptibility for ASD. This SNP also shows modest association with age of word/phrase acquisition in ASD subjects, of interest because features of language development are also associated with other variation in CNTNAP2. In contrast, allele scores derived from the transmission of common alleles to Stage 1 cases significantly predict case status in the independent Stage 2 sample. Despite being significant, the variance explained by these allele scores was small (Vm< 1%). Based on results from individual SNPs and their en masse effect on risk, as inferred from the allele score results, it is reasonable to conclude that common variants affect the risk for ASD but their individual effects are modest.
PMCID: PMC3471395  PMID: 22843504
16.  Common Genetic Determinants of Intraocular Pressure and Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002611.
Intraocular pressure (IOP) is a highly heritable risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma and is the only target for current glaucoma therapy. The genetic factors which determine IOP are largely unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study for IOP in 11,972 participants from 4 independent population-based studies in The Netherlands. We replicated our findings in 7,482 participants from 4 additional cohorts from the UK, Australia, Canada, and the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium 2/Blue Mountains Eye Study. IOP was significantly associated with rs11656696, located in GAS7 at 17p13.1 (p = 1.4×10−8), and with rs7555523, located in TMCO1 at 1q24.1 (p = 1.6×10−8). In a meta-analysis of 4 case-control studies (total N = 1,432 glaucoma cases), both variants also showed evidence for association with glaucoma (p = 2.4×10−2 for rs11656696 and p = 9.1×10−4 for rs7555523). GAS7 and TMCO1 are highly expressed in the ciliary body and trabecular meshwork as well as in the lamina cribrosa, optic nerve, and retina. Both genes functionally interact with known glaucoma disease genes. These data suggest that we have identified two clinically relevant genes involved in IOP regulation.
Author Summary
Glaucoma is a major eye disease in the elderly and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. The numerous familial glaucoma cases, as well as evidence from epidemiological and twin studies, strongly support a genetic component in developing glaucoma. However, it has proven difficult to identify the specific genes involved. Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the major risk factor for glaucoma and the only target for the current glaucoma therapy. IOP has been shown to be highly heritable. We investigated the role of common genetic variants in IOP by performing a genome-wide association study. Discovery analyses in 11,972 participants and subsequent replication analyses in a further 7,482 participants yielded two common genetic variants that were associated with IOP. The first (rs11656696) is located in GAS7 at chromosome 17, the second (rs7555523) in TMCO1 at chromosome 1. Both variants were associated with glaucoma in a meta-analysis of 4 case-control studies. GAS7 and TMCO1 are expressed in the ocular tissues that are involved in glaucoma. Both genes functionally interact with the known glaucoma disease genes. These data suggest that we have identified two genes involved in IOP regulation and glaucomatous neuropathy.
PMCID: PMC3342933  PMID: 22570627
17.  Genome-wide Linkage Analyses of Quantitative and Categorical Autism Subphenotypes 
Biological Psychiatry  2008;64(7):561-570.
The search for susceptibility genes in autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been hindered by the possible small effects of individual genes and by genetic (locus) heterogeneity. To overcome these obstacles, one method is to use autism-related subphenotypes instead of the categorical diagnosis of autism since they may be more directly related to the underlying susceptibility loci. Another strategy is to analyze subsets of families that meet certain clinical criteria to reduce genetic heterogeneity.
In this study, using 976 multiplex families from the Autism Genome Project consortium, we performed genome-wide linkage analyses on two quantitative subphenotypes, the total scores of the reciprocal social interaction domain and the restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior domain from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. We also selected subsets of ASD families based on four binary subphenotypes, delayed onset of first words, delayed onset of first phrases, verbal status, and IQ ≥ 70.
When the ASD families with IQ ≥ 70 were used, a logarithm of odds (LOD) score of 4.01 was obtained on chromosome 15q13.3-q14, which was previously linked to schizophrenia. We also obtained a LOD score of 3.40 on chromosome 11p15.4-p15.3 using the ASD families with delayed onset of first phrases. No significant evidence for linkage was obtained for the two quantitative traits.
This study demonstrates that selection of informative subphenotypes to define a homogeneous set of ASD families could be very important in detecting the susceptibility loci in autism.
PMCID: PMC2670970  PMID: 18632090
Autism; genetic heterogeneity; IQ; language; linkage analysis; schizophrenia
18.  Effect of Linkage Disequilibrium on the Identification of Functional Variants 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(Suppl 1):S115-S119.
We summarize the contributions of Group 9 of Genetic Analysis Workshop 17. This group addressed the problems of linkage disequilibrium and other longer range forms of allelic association when evaluating the effects of genotypes on phenotypes. Issues raised by long-range associations, whether a result of selection, stratification, possible technical errors, or chance, were less expected but proved to be important. Most contributors focused on regression methods of various types to illustrate problematic issues or to develop adaptations for dealing with high-density genotype assays. Study design was also considered, as was graphical modeling. Although no method emerged as uniformly successful, most succeeded in reducing false-positive results either by considering clusters of loci within genes or by applying smoothing metrics that required results from adjacent loci to be similar. Two unexpected results that questioned our assumptions of what is required to model linkage disequilibrium were observed. The first was that correlations between loci separated by large genetic distances can greatly inflate single-locus test statistics, and, whether the result of selection, stratification, possible technical errors, or chance, these correlations seem overabundant. The second unexpected result was that applying principal components analysis to genome-wide genotype data can apparently control not only for population structure but also for linkage disequilibrium.
PMCID: PMC3248791  PMID: 22128051
score tests; two-stage study designs; robust regression; higher criticism; principal components analysis; graphical modeling
19.  A genome-wide linkage study of mammographic density, a risk factor for breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2011;13(6):R132.
Mammographic breast density is a highly heritable (h2 > 0.6) and strong risk factor for breast cancer. We conducted a genome-wide linkage study to identify loci influencing mammographic breast density (MD).
Epidemiological data were assembled on 1,415 families from the Australia, Northern California and Ontario sites of the Breast Cancer Family Registry, and additional families recruited in Australia and Ontario. Families consisted of sister pairs with age-matched mammograms and data on factors known to influence MD. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping was performed on 3,952 individuals using the Illumina Infinium 6K linkage panel.
Using a variance components method, genome-wide linkage analysis was performed using quantitative traits obtained by adjusting MD measurements for known covariates. Our primary trait was formed by fitting a linear model to the square root of the percentage of the breast area that was dense (PMD), adjusting for age at mammogram, number of live births, menopausal status, weight, height, weight squared, and menopausal hormone therapy. The maximum logarithm of odds (LOD) score from the genome-wide scan was on chromosome 7p14.1-p13 (LOD = 2.69; 63.5 cM) for covariate-adjusted PMD, with a 1-LOD interval spanning 8.6 cM. A similar signal was seen for the covariate adjusted area of the breast that was dense (DA) phenotype. Simulations showed that the complete sample had adequate power to detect LOD scores of 3 or 3.5 for a locus accounting for 20% of phenotypic variance. A modest peak initially seen on chromosome 7q32.3-q34 increased in strength when only the 513 families with at least two sisters below 50 years of age were included in the analysis (LOD 3.2; 140.7 cM, 1-LOD interval spanning 9.6 cM). In a subgroup analysis, we also found a LOD score of 3.3 for DA phenotype on chromosome 12.11.22-q13.11 (60.8 cM, 1-LOD interval spanning 9.3 cM), overlapping a region identified in a previous study.
The suggestive peaks and the larger linkage signal seen in the subset of pedigrees with younger participants highlight regions of interest for further study to identify genes that determine MD, with the goal of understanding mammographic density and its involvement in susceptibility to breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3326574  PMID: 22188651
20.  Pathway-based joint effects analysis of rare genetic variants using Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 exon sequence data 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S45.
Pathway-based analysis has been recently used in joint tests of association between disease and a group of common genetic variants. Here we explore this idea for the joint effects analysis of rare genetic variants and their association with quantitative traits and disease. We accumulate multiple rare minor alleles in a genetic risk score for each individual in a given pathway; this score is then used to assess association with quantitative phenotypes and disease. We demonstrate that this approach may be better than studying single rare variants or a gene risk score for identifying individuals with significantly greater risk.
PMCID: PMC3287882  PMID: 22373371
21.  Evaluating outlier loci and their effect on the identification of pedigree errors 
BMC Genetics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S155.
Homozygosity outlier loci, which show patterns of variation that are extremely divergent from the rest of the genome, can be evaluated by comparison of the homozygosity under Hardy-Weinberg proportions (the sum of the squares of allele frequencies) with the expected homozygosity under neutrality. Such outlier loci are potentially under selection (balancing selection or directional selection) when genome-wide effects (such as bottleneck and rapid population growth) are excluded. Outlier loci show skewed allele frequencies with respect to neutrality and may therefore affect the identification of pedigree errors. However, choosing neutral markers (excluding outlier loci) for the identification of pedigree errors has been neglected thus far. Our results showed that 4.1%, 5.5%, and 1.5% of the microsatellite markers, Illumina single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and Affymetrix SNPs, respectively, on the autosomes appear to be under balancing selection (p ≤ 0.01) while 0.8% of the Affymetrix SNPs are consistent with directional selection. On the X-chromosome, 7.7%, 3.2%, and 0.4% of the microsatellite markers, Illumina SNPs, and Affymetrix SNPs, respectively, appear to be under balancing selection. 9.3% of Illumina SNPs and 6.7% of Affymetrix SNPs which have high minor allele frequency (≥40%) appear to be under balancing selection. Pedigree structure errors in 15 of 143 pedigrees were detected using microsatellite markers from the autosomes and/or selected SNPs from chromosomes 1 to 18 of the Illumina and/or selected SNPs from chromosomes 1 to 16 of the Affymetrix. Outlier loci did not make a major difference to the identification of pedigree errors. The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism data has pedigree errors and some of them may be due to sample mix up.
PMCID: PMC1866779  PMID: 16451616
23.  An analysis of identical single-nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped by two different platforms 
BMC Genetics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S152.
The overlap of 94 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) among the 4,720 and 11,120 SNPs contained in the linkage panels of Illumina and Affymetrix, respectively, allows an assessment of the discrepancy rate produced by these two platforms. Although the no-call rate for the Affymetrix platform is approximately 8.6 times greater than for the Illumina platform, when both platforms make a genotypic call, the agreement is an impressive 99.85%. To determine if disputed genotypes can be resolved without sequencing, we studied recombination in the region of the discrepancy for the most discrepant SNP rs958883 (typed by Illumina) and tsc02060848 (typed by Affymetrix). We find that the number of inferred recombinants is substantially higher for the Affymetrix genotypes compared to the Illumina genotypes. We illustrate this with pedigree 10043, in which 3 of 7 versus 0 of 7 offspring must be double recombinants using the genotypes from the Affymetrix and the Illumina platforms, respectively. Of the 36 SNPs with one or more discrepancies, we identified a subset that appears to cluster in families. Some of this clustering may be due to the presence of a second segregating SNP that obliterates a XbaI site (the restriction enzyme used in the Affymetrix platform), resulting in a fragment too long (>1,000 bp) to be amplified.
PMCID: PMC1866782  PMID: 16451613
24.  A genome scan for parent-of-origin linkage effects in alcoholism 
BMC Genetics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S160.
Alcoholism is a complex disease in which genomic imprinting may play an important role in its susceptibility.
To conduct a genome-wide search for loci that may have strong parent-of-origin linkage effects in alcoholism; to compare the linkage results between the microsatellites and the two single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) platforms.
Nonparametric linkage analyses were performed using ALLEGRO with the three sets of markers provided by the Genetic Analysis Workshop 14 for the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism Problem 1 data. Both sex-averaged and sex-specific genetic maps were used. We also provided a valid statistical test to determine whether the parental allele sharing differed significantly.
Significant maternal linkage effects (paternal imprinting) were observed on chromosome 12 using either the microsatellite markers or the two SNP panels. The two SNP sets did not improve the linkage signals compared to the results from the microsatellite markers on chromosome 12. Possible paternal linkage effects (maternal imprinting) on chromosome 7 and maternal linkage effects (paternal imprinting) on chromosome 10 were found using the two SNP panels.
For diseases which may have parent-of-origin effects, linkage analysis looking at parental sharing separately may reduce locus heterogeneity and increase the ability to identify that which can not be identified with usual linkage analysis.
PMCID: PMC1866773  PMID: 16451622
25.  Common variants in ZNF365 are associated with both mammographic density and breast cancer risk 
Nature genetics  2011;43(3):185-187.
High percent mammographic density adjusted for age and body mass index (BMI) is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. We conducted a meta-analysis of five genome-wide association studies of percent mammographic density and report an association with rs10995190 in ZNF365 (combined P=9×6·10−10). This finding might partly explain the underlying biology of the recently discovered association between common variants in ZNF365 and breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3076615  PMID: 21278746

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